Friday, September 01, 2006

Three Vignettes of No Particular Order (first in a series of 10)

I. The First First Round

He sat motionless on his front porch, the nightsounds constant and loud as traffic. His thoughts worked the heavy bag to his first professional fight and how the christening straight left jab broke his too large nose. How the blood flowed like water from a tap until the second jab staunched the bleeding and reset the nose. How the taste of his blood made him gag and made him strong. How he drew the journeyman in by dropping his left, weaving right, countering with a body shot. How he felt the old man’s ribs give and give again. And then again. How he was alive and empty at the sight of the man spitting his own blood, unable to answer the bell of the second round.

II. Interrupting Goodbye

It was late. He was drunk. They argued. She was done with him. She had been done before they’d begun. She went for the door. Her confidence was like a third person in the room. He knew he’d lost her. Had never had her. She walked as if underwater. Her hair, long and dirty blonde, was the most beautiful he’d ever seen. It moved just barely when she walked. He watched her cut-offs and the fabric of her white blouse moving away. He loved all the things she wasn’t. He loved those things more than he loved her. And really, he knew, he didn’t love her at all. As she stepped to leave, he spoke his last false words. “If you walk out that door… I won’t be here when you come back,” he said. She paused. She shut the door and returned. After some tears, they made useless love on his mother’s couch.

The clock over the Victorian roll top desk stood forever at 3:30 a.m.

III. Surviving Childhood

A product of that social experiment, busing, Ray’s education away from books and lesson plans began early. ( Should the grounds of an elementary school be enclosed on all sides by a twelve-foot fence crowned with barbed wire?) It was odd but accepted—as is most everything when one is a child. The playground was inviting as a prison yard and as dangerous. A low wall in the lunch room had been smeared with human feces at some point and never was cleaned or painted over. Students lined against the wall prior to being led back to class each day. They nonchalantly avoided leaning flush against the wall. Sometimes a student pushed another so that he brushed up to it. He could then be taunted for the rest of the day. “You touched shit, you touched shit,” they would laugh. Ray was beaten regularly by the black kids. Accused of calling them a word he would never utter even in adulthood. He could feign only so much toughness and was too sensitive to grasp the true horror of his situation. Before his sentence there, he never knew that sixth graders could get pregnant.

He served three years at Ursula Collins Elementary. And he survived. No noticeable scars accompanied him to his later years.

Nothing noticeable anyway.

6 Comments:

Blogger MJ said...

I'm liking this - a lot.

4:50 AM  
Blogger John H said...

"Her confidence was like a third person in the room."

Brilliant!

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, My favorite line too....
Wonderful post.

6:02 PM  
Blogger newscoma said...

Oh.
This is better than nice.
This is incredible.
Keep writing, please.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ryan, being ignorant, you can capture normal life as would a surreal or expessionist painter would. I say brilliant. Keep letting it flow. Just let it pour out. Stop guarding your talent.

10:54 PM  
Blogger Hamel said...

Your talents - and insight - are wonderful, more of the perfect melding of insight and art.

Thanks.

8:06 AM  

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